3 Special Moments You Shouldn’t Miss

“Go to the wedding, go to the funeral, stop at the lemonade stand.”

For many years life was crazy busy. I homeschooled, parented seven children, adopted four more children, wrote a blog, spoke at conferences, and learned all about parenting kids with trauma.

Living in the trenches of parenting children from “hard places” was a marathon. I was running with all I had every day and there was little time to give to others.

I once skipped a family wedding because I was too emotionally and physically exhausted. It was a necessary absence, nevertheless, I missed one of the biggest moments in my niece’s life.

The thing about weddings is they are about more than the bride and groom. Our presence tells them, and their families, we value them and their very special day took precedence over all the other opportunities and responsibilities pressing around us.

But what about funerals? I was one to avoid funerals at all cost. Death has always been very hard for me and unless I absolutely had to attend, there was no way I was going.

Then my daughter, Kalkidan, died.

This is isn’t the time to tell that story, but I want you to know that when we were in a terrible car accident and our 13-year-old daughter didn’t survive, I was terrified of her funeral. I was physically injured and emotionally in shock. I was completely sick and overwhelmed the day of her service, sure I wouldn’t make it through.

When they wheeled me down the aisle in my temporarily-needed wheelchair, I saw the crowded pews and my heart filled. When we sang, the voices surrounded us like the most comforting hug you can imagine.

The air was thick with love and I breathed in great gulps.

Mid-way through the service, our family stood on the altar as Russ spoke. I looked up and saw that not only were the lower pews packed, the pews climbing higher were also filled. I could not believe this display of love for our family.

Later, friends formed a long line and, as I sat on a stool bandaged and bruised, they came one-by-one to hug us, whispering comforting words in our ears, or simply taking our hands in theirs as tears flowed down their cheeks.

We remember the people who came.

And what about lemonade stands? I blame my friend, Ann, for this one because her words inspired this post. I’m not generally spontaneous. Besides, I live in a nearly cashless world and kids don’t take debit cards!

But what if I intentionally put money in my car for lemonade stands, fundraisers, and stopping for ice cream with my kids?

In my busy, check-it-off-my-list world, I tend to put my head down and plow through. How many times have I driven past children selling lemonade and thought, “I wish I had time to stop.”

What if I lightened up and paused to smile at children pouring sticky glasses of lemonade?

Weddings. Funerals. Lemonade Stands.

What do these have in common?

So many of us are isolated and lonely. These special moments require us to pause and remember what is truly important. At the end of the day, or the end of the week, will we treasure our checked-off lists of accomplished tasks or our family, friends, and neighbors?

We need one another for both the sorrow and the joy.

When we show up and love with open hearts, we demonstrate generosity of spirit. We are saying, “I see you. You are valued and loved. Your joy is my joy, your sorrow my sorrow.”

So go to that wedding, show up at that funeral, and stop at the next lemonade stand you see. It’s worth it.

I created a new FREE download, Hope for Your Parenting Journey: a guide for adoptive and foster moms. Grab your copy by clicking on the blue button in the upper right corner of One Thankful Mom !

Lastly, don’t miss my FREE webinar, Travel Tips for Adoptive Families.

Special thanks to my friend, Ann, for inspiring this post.

Cherish one another,


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Rebecca
    June 25, 2018

    My children wanted to sell coffee and donuts after they saw friends with a lemonade stand. We obliged, and I did one thing I hate most- helped sell coffee and donuts. In doing so I learned a lesson I should have learned years ago. One does not need to want lemonade/coffee to spend money at a child’s stand. Just as big a blessing were the people who drove by, encouraged my kids, gave them $1 and told them to keep the coffee. I must learn to do the same.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 26, 2018

      I love it, Rebecca! I, for one, think a coffee and donut stand sounds great.

  2. Emily
    June 26, 2018

    Yes yes yes.
    I was surprised by just how important people being at our wedding felt! Before I had my own wedding, I think I would have thought “I mean, you don’t get that much quality time with the people anyway. Better to save the $ and travel time for a different trip to see them.” But we totally remember who was at our wedding and it felt so significant. Not that we hold it against anyone who couldn’t make it, but it definitely created a sense of closeness with those who did come, more than I expected it would.
    (So glad you guys were there!)

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 26, 2018

      So glad we were there too! It was a sweet time, and I agree, we remember people who come to our weddings.

  3. Amy
    June 26, 2018

    We went to a wedding on Saturday! 🙂
    I also just found your 50 points of Joy article. My son who is really struggling is at a (long term)camp to get help, and I don’t even know where to begin to find joy and rest… Let alone the other areas of my life that have been neglected for so long… So I am going to start a list of 50 things.
    Thanks so much for this article and for sharing so honestly.
    Blessings to you!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 26, 2018

      Good for you, Amy! Fifty Points of Joy is such a useful tool; I’ve shared it many times. Even when I’m not working on it, I am more mindful of small things that give me joy.

  4. Melody
    June 26, 2018

    As always, you hit the mark and I just read and nod and read and nod. Yes, yes, yes to all you’ve written here. And how much I needed the reminder to stop and drink the lemonade so to speak. Please keep writing and sharing!!!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 26, 2018

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Melody. I appreciate you!

  5. Pam
    June 26, 2018

    Especially funerals. My husband will never forget his friend who flew from four states away and rented a car to attend my mother-in-law’s funeral. Being so far from where we lived, we never expected anyone to come, but the support he showed for my husband meant the world. He is considered a dear friend to this day even though we have moved many miles away and we only see him every few years. You may think that the family is in shock and will not even remember if you were there, but they will, and they will be blessed to know that you cared.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 26, 2018

      That is so true, Pam. Thank you for sharing that story. We will never forget the people who traveled in winter weather to be with us. Our hearts were filled by their love.


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